The most important elements of Armenian heavy industry are metal working, machinery manufacture, electronics, and the production of chemicals, petrochemicals, fertilizers, and building materials. In 1993, with the aid of British and Russian specialists, a chemical combine was designed to streamline production and marketing of Armenia's chemical products, which had been among the republic's most profitable outputs in the Soviet system. In the later Soviet period, the country became known for its high-quality scientific research, particularly in computer science, nuclear and elementary particle physics, and astrophysics. An estimated 30 percent of Armenia's industrial production infrastructure was destroyed or damaged by the earthquake of 1988.
In the Soviet period, Armenian industry contributed trucks, tires, elevators, electronics, and instruments to the union economy, but several of the plants in those sectors also were lost in 1988. In the years of the Azerbaijani blockade, heavy industrial production has declined sharply because the supply of fuels and electricity has been limited and the price of raw materials has become prohibitive.
Armenian plants were an important part of the Soviet military industrial complex, producing a variety of equipment. In the early 1990s, the Armenian Ministry of Defense attempted to reestablish agreements with the defense establishments of Russia and other member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Such a move would enable Armenia to resume production of sophisticated electronic air defense components, which would significantly bolster the domestic economy.
Armenia's most important light consumer products are knitted clothing and hosiery, canned goods, aluminum foil for food packaging, and shoes. Most durable consumer goods are imported. In 1993 production of consumer products declined even more sharply than other sectors. Food imports increased dramatically to compensate for a 58 percent drop in domestic food processing from 1991 to 1992.
Overall industrial production in 1993 was about 60 percent of that in 1992, but the percentage rose steadily through 1993 after a very slow beginning. Food production for 1993, however, was only 50 percent of the 1992 amount, retail sales were 58 percent, and paid services to the population were 32 percent.
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